When Journalists Rent Out Their B(u)ylines . . .

. . . nothing good can come of it.

There’s a growing trend among journalists of co-authoring books with subjects they probably would be better off covering.

Exhibit Umpteen, from Sunday’s New York Times.


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Rajiv Chandrasekaran is a senior correspondent and associate editor at the Washington Post. He’s done some serious investigative work (see this C-SPAN edition of Q&A). He’s also now Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s caddy.

Doesn’t seem right, does it?

The same goes for Boston Globe sports scribe Dan Shaughnessy, who collaborated with former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona on the wildly uncritical Francona: The Red Sox Years.  (See Shaughnessy’s side of the story here.)

Not to mention Atlantic Monthly senior editor Jack Beatty’s totally Patty Hearst Syndrome co-authoring of Tom Menino’s Mayor for a New America.

You can call this sour gripes that the hardworking staff has never gotten embed with a  bio-worthy subject.

But really – shouldn’t we draw the (buy)line somewhere?

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6 Responses to When Journalists Rent Out Their B(u)ylines . . .

  1. The type of people who hire for these jobs recognize that the HWS would tell the truth. Consider it a compliment.

  2. Steve Stein says:

    Those books ain’t gonna write themselves!

    I would agree with you about journalists writing with their subjects, if the subject is still currently serving. “Menino” was written while he was going out the door. Francona as well, but he’s still active, so anything Shaughnessy writes about him now is pretty tainted. (But it’s Shaughnessy, whose sycophantic tendencies are already a given.)

  3. Bob Gardner says:

    I can top this. My former landlord, developer Gerald Schuster, was the object of many investigative pieces– in the L.A. Times, the Globe, the Village Voice and City Limits Magazine, among others. So he founded the Gerald and Elaine Schuster Center for Investigative Journalism, where journalists investigate other things besides Gerald Schuster.

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